A CAMPAIGN to revitalise the fortunes of Cheshire cheese – once the nation’s favourite – is being launched this weekend at Nantwich Food and Drink Festival.
Three of the region’s six remaining producers of traditional, crumbly Cheshire are joining forces in a bid to restore it to its place of honour on cheeseboards around the country.
The campaign has adopted the logo of a winking Cheshire cat with a wry grin.
Cheshire cheese is Britain’s oldest named cheese and during the 19th century it was produced by hundreds of farmers throughout Cheshire and North Shropshire for shipment to London and the rest of the country.
It was first produced for the Romans at Chester and even has a mention in the Domesday Book.
But after the Second World War production slumped as milk was used for consumption in towns and cities and it gradually lost its No 1 spot to an ‘interloper’ – Cheddar.
‘Now we are determined to give Cheshire cheese a kick start and see it restored to its rightful place among the truly great cheeses,’ said Justin Beckett, of Belton Cheese just over the county border at Whitchurch.
‘We are now one of only six producers of traditional Cheshire and, as a result, there has even been a decline in the market in our own heartland.’
To reverse the trend, Belton Cheese has teamed up with Joseph Heler Ltd of Nantwich and The Cheese Company of Malpas to launch the revival project.
‘Our collective aim is to raise the profile of Cheshire cheese,’ said Mr Beckett, whose father, John, was among the first to restart Cheshire cheese manufacture after the war.
Award-winning Belton Cheese was started by Justin’s grandfather, Stanley Beckett, who left the family textile business in Manchester to work at Belton as a farm pupil, progressing to become manager and eventually owner.
Its organic Cheshire cheese – one of eight different cheeses produced on the farm – is made using the same special starter cultures and recipe has used over three generations.